The hashtag #clipboardguy went viral on Twitter, with many users expressing their shock that someone would take such a risk.
Pictures show the man helping Amber Vinson, a 29-year-old nurse who contracted Ebola. The nurse became infected after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas. She was being transferred from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she worked, to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Reports have emerged that the man was not supposed to be wearing protective gear, according to airline Phoenix Air. They have since specified that as the medical protocol supervisor, his role is to ensure the safety of the rest of the team.
“Our medical professionals in the biohazard suits have limited vision and mobility, and it is the protocol supervisor’s job to watch each person carefully and give them verbal directions to ensure no close contact protocols are violated,” a Phoenix Air spokesperson told ABC News.
“There is absolutely no problem with this and in fact ensures an even higher level of safety for all involved,” the spokesperson told ABC.
The same company also flew Ebola survivors Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol to Atlanta from Liberia on the specially designed air ambulance.
Public misconceptions about Ebola patients
In the public imagination, being near an Ebola patient without protective gear is highly dangerous. However, science dictates that it is only if bodily fluids of the patient come into contact with the unprotected individual that there is a risk of infection.
The reason that healthcare workers have become infected in Dallas is because they were not adequately protected when treating Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in the later stages of his life, when the bodily fluids that he was expelling were riddled with the virus.
Experts have warned that health professionals must also take care when removing protective clothing, as it is very easy for the patient’s bodily fluid to touch their skin as they are removing the various layers.